North: Spring barleys look better than winter crops

I am going to utter to words that for 12 months we have not had to mention “a nice rain would be appreciated!”

Only two weeks ago Mother Nature attempted to move all the soil from the Malton area to Scarborough. Bedouin tribesman would have been at home with camels wondering along the A64. Some damage was done and areas did require re-drilling, but fortunately most spring crops had not emerged.

The first spring drilled cereal crops are now emerging and awaiting a broad-leaved weed control spray. These will primarily be based around a sulfonyl urea program; however the good old favourites of CMPP and HBN will still be used as the best option in some situations.

The winter barley crops are a mixed bag and unfortunately more are on the wrong side of average. It is difficult to have faith in investing large quantities of client’s cash into crops that you have little faith in producing good yields.

To add insult to this, the spring barleys have romped out of the ground and already look better than their winter counterparts.

Rates of fungicides have been stretched to match possible potential and limit risk. The majority will be Prothioconazole based. All crops will still receive some growth regulator in an attempt to even them up and preserve tillers.

Late drilled wheat’s will have a spray programme similar to spring wheat which at the, risk of offending multiple manufacturers will be cheap and cheerful! On the other hand early drilled wheat’s are starting to look well and T1 sprays are being applied.

The October drilled crops are about a week later and are rather more disappointing. I would love to say that one spray fits all for T1 fungicides, but I have a huge mix of different combinations depending on variety, tank mixes, disease pressure, and rotational position. This means that any company that calls me asking if I have used their product I can gleefully say yes!

The first wild oats have pushed their heads above ground along with a collection of polygnum weeds and I have already received the first calls asking “can I add product A to B and C? Oh and what about D, E, and F?”

The first oilseed rapes are now flowering and have received their last nitrogen. It has certainly been a ‘soul searching affair’ growing the crop this year and I still remain sceptical that some fields of tiny green Christmas trees will perform.

I have found the first pollen beetles, but seriously had to peel open flower buds to find them and with cold weather returning build up will be slow. You can read all the articles about pyretheroid resistance and make your own mind up, but if I find sufficient numbers in backward crops to justify spraying, I will then start with a pyretheroid programme and monitor the levels of control.

Winter oats are looking good on the whole and appeared to have weathered the deluge as well as any crop. Flat oats are a sure fire recipe for very grumpy combine drivers and the best growth regulator is less nitrogen! The first fungicides will be due in 10 days and will be combined with broad-leaved weed control and growth regulator as required.

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